I've already talked quite a lot about the Parthenon Marbles on this blog. You can find posts on them here, here, and here. To recap, though, the Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, is a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions and architectural members that originally were part of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin obtained a controversial permit from the Ottoman authorities to remove pieces from the Parthenon while serving as the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799 to 1803.

Greece begins new campaign for Parthenon Sculptures
Parthenon sculptures at the British Museum [Credit: TANN]
The Parthenon Marbles acquired by Elgin include seventeen figures from the statuary from the east and west pediments of the Parthenon, fifteen (of the original 92) of the metope panels depicting battles between the Lapiths and the Centaurs, as well as 247 feet (75 meters) of the original 524 feet (160 meters) of the Parthenon Frieze which decorated the horizontal course set above the interior architrave of the temple. As such, they represent more than half of what now remains of the surviving sculptural decoration of the Parthenon. Elgin's acquisitions also included objects from other buildings on the Athenian Acropolis: a Caryatid from Erechtheum; four slabs from the parapet frieze of the Temple of Athena Nike; and a number of other architectural fragments of the Parthenon, Propylaia, Erechtheum, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Treasury of Atreus.

Back in December 2013, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, sent a letter to the British Foreign Secretary, informing him of Hellas' request for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. The Archaeology News Network now responds that a new campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles has been launched by UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Marianna V. Vardinoyiannis. The campaign, titled “Return (the Marbles), Restore (Parthenon), Restart (History), is based on an initiative by the Elpida Association and the Melina Mercouri Foundation. It is aimed at increasing awareness for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.

The campaign’s opening event was an international conference on the Parthenon scheduled to take place at the Acropolis Museum on Thursday, followed by an across-the-country survey regarding the importance of the marbles’ return for Greeks. The results of both the conference and the survey are expected to be submitted to world heritage organization UNESCO.